The unique 1970 Datsun 240Z proved Japan was able to constructing greater than financial system automobiles, kicked off a 52-year sports activities automobile story that gave us the legendary Nineties Z31 300ZX, and continues this 12 months with the all-new, twin-turbo 2023 Z.
However much less effectively remembered are the ZX-badged cars that Datsun, and later Nissan, constructed within the late Seventies and early Eighties when the American efficiency automobile market was combating emissions and security rules that appeared decided to make automobiles heavier, punier and slower.
The 1981 280ZX Turbo may need been 589 lbs (267kg) heavier than a 1971 240Z, nevertheless it was additionally usefully faster. In actual fact, it was the quickest Japanese import you can purchase in America in ’81, and one of many quickest automobiles, interval. The naturally aspirated 280ZX’s 2.8-liter inline-six was solely good for 145 hp (147 PS) that 12 months, however the blown model punched out 180 hp (182 PS), and even saddled with the obligatory three-speed computerized transmission, Automobile & Driver’s take a look at automobile rumbled to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 7.4 seconds.
That made it considerably sooner than one other turbocharged, rear-wheel drive coupe to which the Z bore greater than a passing resemblance, particularly if the Z in query was dressed up in black and gold just like the automobile pictured right here, and optioned with a T-bar roof.
We’re speaking, after all, concerning the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Pontiac had killed off the Firebird’s big-block engine choices after 1979, changing them with turbocharged small blocks. The most popular engine out there on the Method and Trans Am was a turbocharged 301 cu-in (4.9-liter) V8 that made 210 hp (213 PS), however a decrease compression ratio in 1981 dropped energy to 200 hp (203 PS).
Yep, the Poncho’s 2.1-liter benefit over the Datsun was price simply 20 hp (20 PS). Admittedly, the Firebird had significantly extra torque (340 lb-ft/461 Nm versus 203 lb-ft/275 Nm), nevertheless it didn’t do it a lot good. Zero to 60 mph instances for the blown fowl hardly ever dropped a lot under 9 seconds, that means a turbo Z was considerably sooner.
This 280ZX turbo was ordered in shorter two-seat type, fairly than as a two-plus-two, with the luxurious GL bundle and the blackout trim choice that appears nice set off by the gold wheels. The paint is reportedly new, and the inside, unique, although it appears to have survived fairly effectively. The usual two-spoke wheel, T-bar transmission shifter and federally-mandated 85 mph (137 km/h) speedo don’t precisely scream “efficiency”, however in response to interval exams, the 280ZX turbo might nudge 130 mph (225 km/h). That was going some for 1981.
If you wish to present some appreciation for a forgotten efficiency hero from the times when the battle for clear air gave efficiency a unclean title, this ZX is positioned in Pennsylvania the place it’s for sale for $19,500.